Page 37 of Before (After 5)

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“Well, me and Steph . . . that was fun.” I smile at Tessa and she looks away.

“And yeah, I have girls that I fuck. But why would that concern you, friend?”

Admittedly, I imagine Tessa as one of those girls, spread out beneath me, her mouth open in pleasure. She closes her eyes and takes a breath. I imagine stealing her breath as she comes from my fingers and my mouth at the same time. I’m sure she’s never had someone teasing her clit with their tongue while slowly sliding—

“It doesn’t,” Tessa says, interrupting my thoughts. “I just don’t want you to think that I will be one of those girls.” She shoves me, but that only manages to intensify the fantasy going on in my mind.

“Aww . . . Are you jealous, Theresa?”

She shoves me again. “No, absolutely not. I feel sorry for the girls.” Tessa shakes her head and I laugh. She wouldn’t feel sorry for anyone—she would only feel pleasure, intense amounts of pleasure that she can’t even imagine.

“Oh, you shouldn’t.” I can’t stop thinking about her naked body. I need to see what she’s hiding under those baggy clothes. She wouldn’t know what to do with herself if I got my hands on her. “They enjoy it, trust me.”

“Okay, okay. I get it. Can we please just change the subject?” Tessa closes her eyes again and tilts her head back. She groans before she says, “So, will you try to be nicer to me?”

“Sure. Will you try not to be so uptight and bitchy all the time?” I tease.

“I’m not bitchy; you’re just obnoxious.”

We both laugh as she finishes her statement. Her laugh is soft, floating around me. I feel fluffy, in a weird but nice way.

Fluffy? Really, Hardin?

I need to get my shit together and put this Friendship Train on the right track.

I lean a little closer to my new friend. “Look at us, two friends.”

Tessa shrinks back and stands up. Her hands wipe at her skirt, and I backtrack, thinking about taking that skirt off. “That skirt really is dreadful, Tess. If we’re going to be friends, you need to not wear it anymore.” It’s not that bad, but it’s certainly not good.

Tessa’s eyes flash with embarrassment, and I smile to ease it. I didn’t mean it as an insult. I was only teasing her. Really, if she wants to wear unflattering clothing, more power to her. I wear the same few pairs of black jeans and stained T-shirts.

Tessa’s phone begins to vibrate, and she pulls it out of her bag. “I need to get back and study,” she announces.

I glance at the ancient clunk of plastic in her hand. Is that a Nokia?

“You set an alarm to study?” I ask her, pondering the fact that she must have the last flip phone in existence. It’s like she’s trying to be outdated or something.

She shrugs. “I set an alarm for a lot of things; it’s just something I do.”

This behavior makes her shy, as if she should be embarrassed that she does such a thing. Why would she think that? Someone in her life must make her feel like she needs to justify her strange behavior. Her mum, I’m sure. Well, I’m sort of doing it now, too, but that woman seems anal as hell. Tessa’s mum probably had an alarm set for Tessa to piss, as controlling as the woman seems.

“Well, set an alarm for us to do something fun tomorrow after class,” I say.

I want to spend time with her. I need to.

She looks at me, her eyebrows pushing together in confusion. “I don’t think my idea of fun is the same as yours.”

She’s not wrong. My idea of fun is definitely different from hers. Her idea of fun would be to study together, piles of notes and heavy textbooks spread out on the bed between us. An academic cock blocking.

My idea of fun is much different. My idea of fun is sitting on the bed, my back against a headboard while Tessa wraps her mouth around my cock. I would love to add a cold glass of whiskey, one ice cube floating in the dark liquid, clicking against the glass as she draws me deeper into her mouth.

I’m not supposed to be drinking, though, so I suppose I’ll take the blow job sans the whiskey.

Instead of telling her all this, I say, “Well, we’ll only sacrifice a few cats, burn down a few buildings . . .”

Tessa giggles, and I can’t help but smile back at her. But I’m distracted a little when this couple walks by us, holding hands as they laugh at some lame joke the guy’s made. I didn’t exactly catch what they were saying, but I know it’s lame because they’re wearing matching striped socks. Subtly shoving their relationship into innocent passerbys’ faces. It’s bullshit, really. Tessa doesn’t even seem to notice them; she’s staring down at the concrete.

“Really, though, you could use some fun, and since we are new friends, we should do something fun.”

Before Tessa can refuse me, I turn my back to her and start off. “Good, I’m glad you’re aboard. See you tomorrow.”

When I cross the street, I look back to see her sitting on the curb. She didn’t try to refuse me, she agreed to see me tomorrow, and now I don’t know what the fuck I’m going to do, because I had planned on her denying me a few times before I had to actually plan a date thing with her.

When I get to my car, I try to think of what to do with Tessa. I don’t go out, ever, aside from parties at other people’s places. Other than that, I’m on campus or in my room, alone.

I start the car and keep trying to think of something to do. A movie? What type of movie does Tessa like? Something from a Nicholas Sparks novel, I’m sure. I could sneak my arm around her. I could buy her popcorn or overpriced chocolate to impress her. The problem with seeing a movie is that we can’t talk during it. Someone would complain, and I would end up getting into some trouble.

Dating rituals were so much less complicated in the past. If we lived in an Austen novel, I would court her and take her on chaperoned dates where we would walk through the woods, and if I felt brave, I would brush her gloved hand with mine. She would blush and put a finger to her full lips, looking to our chaperone with a warning in her gray eyes.

Modern dating is much different, and now, if I felt brave, I would reach down and tease her nipples through her top and she would move my hand to the warmth between her thighs. No chaperone, no rules.

I’m interrupted in my planning by my phone ringing.

Does Tessa have my number? Speaking of that, I need to get her number from Steph.